Newsnight might have looked different

For a long time during the development of its design, Newsnight looked very different to the way it eventually appeared on screen when re-branded back in the early part of 2010. These shots from January 2010 show a studio test with full lighting and camera set-ups of an advanced version of the designs I developed in conjunction with Simon Jago at BDA. The brief had been to prepare a backdrop environment that comprised a night time scene inside a high-end lounge space with external views over a cityscape.

Over a number of studio tests we had been able to refine the composition in relation to all the anticipated shots, particularly the main mid-shots and had embarked on full studio tests with crew, lighting and stand-in presenters and guests. The design took a number of cues from the previous backdrop prepared by Angus McKeown. Two particular elements to carry through would be the sky treatment and streaks of light created by cars on the roadways within the cityscape. Everything worked except the nature of the space as defined by the brief, but it took until what was to have been the final test, late one Wednesday evening before the idea was eventually killed off for good.

We were now getting extremely close to projected re-launch date and running out of time so Simon and I immediately reconvened in a quiet corner of TVC to plan and sketch our recovery solution. Next day, I set to work on eliminating the interior elements save for the ceiling, floor and glazing elements and poured my energies into developing the citsycape. Eventually we introduced the glass fin elements to help us define our mid-ground and frame the shots, ultimately adding reflections and light effects to their surfaces. This process led to the design that eventually appeared on screen and is still being used today. The decision to abandon the original brief, though hard at the time proved to be a defining moment and provided the timely kick the creative process required.

Despite an often difficult development path, Newsnight remains one of my favourite backdrop environment designs.